Footsie finishes on a high

British investors were focused on aerospace today as engineer Smiths bailed out of the sector and British Airways faced up to the prospect of industrial action.

British investors were focused on aerospace today as engineer Smiths bailed out of the sector and British Airways faced up to the prospect of industrial action.

The blue-chip stocks experienced contrasting fortunes after Smiths shares closed 11% higher but BA retreated 1.5% on fears of more disruption.

The wider market suffered no turbulence and with US markets closed for a public holiday the FTSE 100 Index closed 24.5 points higher at 6263.5.

The blow to BA came on news that cabin staff had voted for strike action in a row over sickness absence, pay and staffing. The stock closed 8.5p lower at 542.5p.

Smiths was the biggest riser after the promise of a £2.1bn (€3.2bn) windfall for shareholders caused shares in the industrial conglomerate to jump 109.5p to 1094.5p.

The return of cash will follow the proposed sale of the company's aerospace arm to General Electric for £2.5bn (€3.8bn), which fuelled speculation that other parts of the UK conglomerate could be the subject of corporate activity.

Other industrial groups benefited from the consolidation, as well as an upbeat note on the sector for Deutsche Bank.

BAE Systems was among them, rising 8.25p to 425.5p - a gain of 2%. BAE was also the subject of speculation that it could work with private equity group Carlyle in a joint bid for control of Britain's nuclear submarine industry.

Rolls-Royce was among other firms to benefit from the Deutsche Bank upgrade as the engines giant was up 10.25p to 486.25p, while in the second tier Meggitt gained 16p to 339.75p and Cobham cheered 5.75p to 207.5p.

Elsewhere in the top flight, BT shares were under pressure - down 1.75p at 314.5p - after broker UBS downgraded the stock. Vodafone was impacted for a while before recovering to close half a penny higher at 149.75p.

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